Maybe the recent fact that so many mid-century architectural wonders are demolished or fall into disrepair is because the community just hasn’t gotten to know them. This Saturday, the US chapter of Docomomo, a nonprofit dedicated to ”documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement,” is hosting Tour Day 2013 across the country at buildings and sites that are in transition, in need of restoration, or have been abandoned.
Some of the buildings might be familiar to architecture buffs, like the stacked block structure of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, but there are also more off-the-beaten modernist trail tours like a walk down Kapiolani Boulevard in Hawaii to explore the post-World War II developments, as well as a tour with the Detroit Area Art Deco Society of Woodlawn Avenue, and a bus tour with Preserve Phoenix of abandoned architecture. Some even include restricted and behind-the-scenes adventures (although sadly the Rudolph building is just a walk around it, albeit with some architecture experts).
The whole aim is to show people in the communities of the 23 states with planned tours that there are these often overlooked architectural wonders right in their cities. There are around 50 tours planned, but here’s just a glimpse at a few:
The David & Gladys Wright House
Preserve Phoenix is hosting a bus tour that will take visitors to abandoned architecture around Phoenix, as well as buildings in a state of transition. What’s particularly exciting is a visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed David and Gladys Wright residence, which last year was nearly torn down until it was bought by an anonymous benefactor.
Paul Rudolph Orange County Government Center
Goshen, New York
The Paul Rudolph Orange County Government Center with its brutalism blocks has yet to be saved and is still in danger of demolition by county officials. You can take a walking tour to “parade” to the building and hear about why it’s worth saving.
Portland Open-Space Sequence
Back in the 1960s, architect Lawrence Halprin designed the “Portland Open-Space Sequence,” a series of plazas in Portland, Oregon, that end at the towering Keller Fountain. While the giant monoliths are popular with summer swimmers, they’re in need of restoration, as all that love can wear an old fountain down.
Sylvan Beach Pavilion
The Sylvan Beach Pavilion in Texas is an example of the numerous mid-century structures that sprung up on the shores post-World War II, but the 1956 building was recently almost torn down. Yet now it’s 10,000-square-foot ballroom with glass walls has been restored, and Houston Mod is hosting a sneak-preview tour.
First Presbyterian Church of Stamford
Known as the Fish Church for its shape and acoustics, the First Presbyterian Church of Stamford was architect Wallace K. Harrison’s fulfillment of his question: ”have you ever thought what it would be like to live inside a giant sapphire?” This Saturday you can join tours inside this church built from precast concrete with 20,000 panes of glass, and hear how it is continuing to operate into the 21st century.
Docomomo’s Tour Day 2013 is this Saturday, October 4.
Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!